The first time we broke into the building together it was broad daylight and I was carefree. We all met in the parking lot of a pizza place to casually leave in groups of four. “Look cool, but don’t look like you’re trying to look cool,” Andrea stressed. “Talk to each other, but don’t be loud. We were thinking, maybe it’d be good if people smoked cigarettes.”
“Pffft,” I said.
Nick had thrown a rope over a wall earlier that day and repelled into the courtyard. He was inside now, waiting for us.
“Are you nervous about getting arrested?” someone asked.
“Are you kidding me? I would love to get arrested today,” I cried. “That shows cops are actually around. Which implies a certain degree of security and safety . . . sanity, order . . . that let’s just say, I’d love to feel around here. Anyway, I decided long ago that I don’t care about my legal record. I will never have that kind of job.”
Seriously though. I write about my life (mistakes) on the internet. I take my clothes off in bars and hotel conference rooms. Getting arrested for breaking and entering an abandoned mental hospital would be just another awesome thing you wish you were telling your grandchildren.
“. . . Unless there’s a fee involved. Nights in jail I can do. But really, I can’t afford even a twenty-five dollar ticket.”
We slipped in the side door, confident, chatty but muted, smoking cigarettes, and waited for the next group of four. The walls fluttered with peeling paint. Afternoon sunlight broke in through crumbling windows and everything was glowing, shifting, crunching under our feet. This was the kitchen. Here is the old sink. This was the sponge they used. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
“Uh, guys . . .”
Scott nodded his head toward the door, which was now wide open. A uniformed man had propped it with his foot. His left hand was shading his face from the sun, his right hand was on his hip. He was just standing there, like a man who has stood there many times before, waiting to be noticed.
We filed out, one at a time. Hop over broken glass, jump down to pavement, scamper scamper. Then he closed the door behind us, and wordlessly returned to his squad car.